CHICAGO — It’s something that’s still in it’s infancy when it comes to the National Basketball Association, but the odds may seem stacked against the Bulls in 2023.
Billy Donovan’s team is currently the tenth seed in the Eastern Conference Play-In Tournament, which begins for the them on Wednesday night. That’s when they’ll face the ninth-seeded Raptors at Scotiabank Arena at 6 p.m. central time.
It’s a “win-or-go-home” game for the Bulls, who finished up their regular season with a 40-42 record after beating the Pistons in the finale Sunday at the United Center.
Here’s what you need to know ahead of the play-in tournament, which will involve the Bulls for the first time.
Make history or be history
While the play-in tournament in its current format is only entering it’s third year, one thing that’s consistent is the lack of success for the tenth seeds that have taken part in it.
In 2021 and 2022, the teams holding that postion has yet to win a game. Oddly enough, the same two teams have held that position the last two years – Charlotte and San Antonio.
- 2021 – Western Conference – #10 Spurs lost to #9 Grizzlies 100-96
- 2021 – Eastern Conference – #10 Hornets lost to #9 Pacers 144-117
- 2022 – Western Conference – #10 Spurs lost to #9 Pelicans 113-103
- 2022 – Eastern Conference – #10 Hornets lost to #9 Hawks 132-103
We meet again
Like with all Eastern Conference teams, the Bulls are quite familiar with their foe they’ll play to try to keep their season alive on Wednesday.
This will be the team’s fourth meeting with the Raptors this season, with two of those coming in the opening weeks of the season. Toronto won the regular seasons series 2-1 and finished the regular season 41-41.
Here are the results of the match-ups between the teams this season.
- November 6 – at Toronto – Raptors 113 Bulls 104
- November 7 – at Chicago – Bulls 111 Raptors 97
- February 28 – at Toronto – Raptors 104 Bulls 98
If the Bulls beat the Raptors, they would travel to face the loser of the contest between the seventh-seeded Heat and eighth-seeded Hawks on their home floor on Friday night at 6 p.m. or 6:30 p.m. central time.
The last of this current core?
A year ago, there was hope that the team’s current core could be one to bring the team back to the top of the NBA.
Now there is question as to how long this current group could remain together as inconsistency was a major storyline of this season. Point guard Lonzo Ball, who was a critical part of the assembly of the group in the summer of 2021, hasn’t seen the floor this season & won’t for much of next year after a third left knee surgery.
Nikola Vucevic is a free agent after spending the last two-and-a-half years with the Bulls following a trade from the Magic.
Would the Bulls think about trading DeMar DeRozan or even Zach LaVine, who just signed a max contract last offseason? All could be on the table for executive vice president Arturas Karnisovas and general manager Marc Eversley as they continue to put the Bulls at the top of the NBA for the first time since the late 1990s.
A loss on Wednesday along with an inconsistent season could mean that the group you see with the Bulls now might be different when they head training camp in the fall.